Back To Front But Functional

While the circuit required for programming an ATmega328P-PU chip (i.e. a standalone Arduino) is fairly simply (regardless of whether you are running at 8MHz or 16MHz) it would still be a pain to have to set everything up on a breadboard each time I wanted to programme a chip. The solution was to build a shield for the Arduino which I could simply slot on whenever I wanted to programme a new ATmega328P-PU.

Now I could have gone all fancy and designed a custom PCB for this project, but for such a simple project (where I wouldn't ever need more than one shield) this seemed overkill. Instead I built the shield out of a budget prototyping shield from oomlout. Obviously I don't want to solder an ATmega328P-PU to the shield as that would defeat the purpose, so I've added a 28pin DIP socket in its place. It took me a while to figure out the best placement of the components and to cut appropriate sized pieces of wire (lots of the connections are actually made simply by soldering the leads together on the underside of the board), although actually soldering everything in place was fairly quick (the advantage of lots of planning time). Most of the components were held in place by bending their leads slightly. The DIP socket, however, kept falling out. Unfortunately one of those occasions was just as I was about to solder it into place, and I managed to put it in back to front :(

Fortunately, the only problem with having the DIP socket back to front is that the notched end of the chip doesn't match up with the notch on the socket, which is why I've added a white paint mark to the socket to remind me to put the chip in the wrong way around. Anyway I now have a functioning shield which I can use to programme an ATmega328P-PU to run at either 8MHz or 16MHz and to upload sketches to it. I'd call that a success.


  1. Excellent.
    Years ago, forty odd years ago I built a radio controlled glider. I also made a pair of copper tweezers to act as a heat sink whilst soldering. Is this still necessary? I recall getting all the transistors and capacitors from a firm called Ballards on Abbeydale road in Sheffield. They used to do big bags of bits of circuit board and alsorts of things.

    1. Strangely the first, and last, thing I soldered together was an AM radio about 20 years ago.

      As for a heat sink, I didn't use one on this occasion. Most components seem to be able to withstand a short period of heating -- long enough for you to solder them on to perfboard. The best thing is to check the datasheet for each component -- I know I have some tiny LEDs that can't handle much heat at all and I'm not sure how I'll solder them on to anything.

    2. I would ask a kind medical student to get a pair of forceps. they have a ratchet closer and come in all sizes. I would then file up two copper jaws and silver solder them on. Super glue is no good but there must be heat proof glue available. If not any jeweller would do the job for a shilling.